778 arrested in Tunisia unrest over price hikes

SECURITY forces detain a protester in a town on the outskirts of Tunis.—AFP

SECURITY forces detain a protester in a town on the outskirts of Tunis.—AFP

Tunisia has been gripped by protests, looting and vandalism since Monday, with riot police intervening to protect state institutions, public and private property and civilians.

It is significant that the center of the protests has not been Tunis, the country's capital and the stronghold of these political institutions dominated by the more privileged layers of the middle class, but rather the impoverished towns of the interior.

Interior ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani said 151 people were arrested on Thursday, taking the number detained in several nights of unrest to 778.

Police have insisted they did not kill the man.

Tunisians have started to express frustration over austerity measures expected to further increase prices in a struggling economy.

"People have to understand that the situation is extraordinary and their country has difficulties but we believe that 2018 will be the last hard year for the Tunisians", Chahed told reporters in comments broadcast on local radio.

Tunisia is often seen as having had a relatively smooth transition since the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

And more demonstrations are planned in the coming days to mark seven years since the ouster of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011.

Harvey Weinstein Attacked at Restaurant in Scottsdale
The two shook hands and the man left however, when Weinstein and his coach left the venue, the man began shouting at Weinstein. In October, The New York Times and New Yorker released stories accusing the film executive of sexual harassment and rape.

The 2010-11 Tunisian revolt sparked uprisings across the Arab world, called the Arab Spring.

Sporadic protests continued across parts of Tunisia, overnight, as government security forces tried to put a stop to scattered violence that has hit a number of regions.

After the movement, however, nine administrations during the last seven years in Tunisia have failed to mitigate the plaguing high unemployment rates and economic distress of the common man.

A Jewish school and a historic synagogue were attacked in Djerba as police focused on curbing unrest elsewhere in the country.

The protests began peacefully last week, but escalated on Monday evening.

Clashes between protesters and police, who fired tear gas to clear the crowds, were recorded in at least 20 towns and cities including Tunis as well as in Gafsa, Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of Tunisia's Arab Spring in 2011.

Last year, the Washington-based International Monetary Fund agreed a four-year loan programme worth about $2.8bn with Tunisia, but tied to economic reforms.

On Wednesday, the Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, accused the opposition of fuelling dissent by calling for more protests.

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